Apps For Website Change Monitoring, Change Detection, and Alerts
Nowadays, there are many great website change detector apps to help monitor website changes and give you instant alerts to said changes! Ever have the pleasure of receiving a message from your customer, telling you your website is down? Or that you have an error on the page preventing them to buy or contact you? It’s fun, right? No matter how great things seem to be going, errors can happen in an instant! We’ll break down some of the free and low cost apps we use for change monitoring and to keep us instantly informed! Plus – learn how to use these same apps to spy on what your competition is doing!
- How to automatically monitor your website for downtime
- Get automatic alerts if your website goes offline, and when it comes back online
- Monitor your website for hacking and hijacking issues
- How to make sure your website does not have plugins causing on-page issues
- Ensure any content embedded into your website is always active
- Monitor specific landing pages to ensure they are always up and working properly
- Catch changes any hackers, malware, viruses, or bots make to your website
- Monitor the source code of your website for unauthorized changes
- Monitor your Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, or other social accounts for changes and updates
- Get alerted when content on other websites changes – like pricing on Amazon
- Spy on your competitors websites for content updates and get notified when it changes
- Get instant alerts when your competition updates it’s online prices
- Monitor your competitors website to see what new keywords they are targeting
- Get alerted when your brand is mentioned on specific websites
- Setup notifications when important websites are updated with new posts or content
- Create alerts to monitor your competitors social media accounts
Thanks for Listening!
Here is a preview of the transcription from Episode 22 Monitor Website Changes Automatically (and Spy On Competitor Pages Too!);
Jesse: Hey everyone, welcome back to Local SEO Tactics. Jesse Own with Bob Brennan.
Jesse: As always. And this week we’re going to be talking about some pretty cool tools that are out there to help you kind of know what’s happening with your website. A lot of times, we’ll publish our website, maybe make some updates, and then we’re done with it until we need to make some changes again. Meanwhile, customers and the public is out there bouncing off our website all the time. And really, that’s your first exposure to a lot of people. So, sometimes what happens, and if anybody’s out there managing their own website and have been for a while, you know sometimes mistakes happen. Right? Sometimes things go haywire on your website. Pages get corrupted or things get broken for whatever reason.
And here you go, two weeks later after you get an update, you come to your website and you’re like, “Wait a second. That doesn’t look right.” Or, “That information is missing.” Or there’s a broken image or something else.
Jesse: And you’re wondering how did that happen? When did that happen? And oh my God, how long has this been like this and who’s been seeing this? We’re going to talk about some tools that are out there. Some are free, and if they are paid, they’re really inexpensive, to help you be aware of these things. So, we’re going to be talking about uptime monitoring and change monitoring for your website.
So the first thing, which is one of our favorites, it’s called Uptimerobot. Yeah, uptimerobot.com. Super useful. It can do a couple different functions, but the main thing that we use it for is literally just monitoring your uptime. So, we run WordPress, is kind of our primary recommendation and what we use for all of our websites. Sometimes you have a plugin that updates automatically, right? Or maybe you push out an update, or someone on your team you’ve delegated it to pushes out an update. And sometimes it can have some unintended consequences.
Or maybe you shot something out there, you wrote a blog post or an article, or you got piked up in the media, something went viral. And you get a ton of traffic onto your website. You’re sitting there, “Oh, this is great. All this exposure.” Well, you might not know that your website crashed because it couldn’t handle the traffic, you didn’t have the resources.
Something like this uptimerobot.com would automatically tell you, “Hey, your website’s down.” Right?
Or again, if it’s like a WordPress update or a plugin update updated overnight automatically, you had no idea that that actually crashed your website or maybe a certain page on it, you can configure this thing to look at your homepage or any particular page you want. And it’s going to tell you when it’s down. It’ll also tell y when it’s back up, right? So maybe if you’re updating your database once a week, maybe if your website goes down, let’s say from midnight to two in the morning, okay maybe that wasn’t a huge deal. That’s part of some scheduled maintenance, kind of disregard that message. But something happens in the middle of the day between your nine or five and your website’s down for two hours, that stings.
Check it out, we have, I should say too, we don’t make any affiliate money off any of these. We have no horse in the race. These are tools that we use.
Jesse: And that we recommend to people. So, if you use these things, great. Otherwise I’m sure, like uptimerobot.com, if you just Google alternatives to Uptimerobot or like Uptimerobot, you’re going to find some other options too. We’re just going to be sharing as examples the ones that we use ourselves and that we recommend. So, just to kind of make that clear for everybody. But definitely check that thing out. It’s a super cool tool and very, very useful.u kind of set it up once and then really, you just forget about it, and it can give you the confidence that your website’s going to be up, kind of that security to not have to worry about it.
Another super cool one is ChangeTower. Changetower.com, there’s another one that’s very similar. And we use both of these. Visualping.io. And for all three of these, I’ll put links in the show notes, so you guys can kind of jump to them and see. But these get a little bit more sophisticated than Uptimerobot.these can monitor really all sorts of changes. And Bob and I will kind of share some examples with you. But if you can just think about on a website, what changes, you can monitor that.
So, I’m going to give you a few examples. Let’s say if your website was hacked. We’ve had the unfortunate experience, not anything I’d say within the last five years, but back in the day a little bit, we had some unfortunate situations with lapses in security where we have some websites get hacked and stuff changed and one the home pages. Things like that. That’s horrible. You want to know about that as soon as you can.
Jesse: A product like this would instantly alert you to a change in your homepage. So, what these do is basically take a snapshot. So, you’d set it up, set up your account, and you’d say, “Here’s the page I want to monitor,” and it basically takes a snapshot there. And then you can set the intervals, if it’s every five minutes, every five hours, every day, every five days. Whatever you want, kind of set that interval. And some of these have free programs for monitoring one website once a day. Some of them might cost nine dollars or $29 a month. Kind of depends on really the frequency of the changes that you want to be monitoring. A lot of them will have unlimited websites, and unlimited change monitoring, but it’s just again that how often it checks it because that’s their resources that they’re doing.
Jesse: But basically it’ll take a before and after snapshot. And it’ll send you an email and say, ‘Hey, we noticed some differences.” And usually these kinds of services will actually show you what the difference is. They won’t type you out a message, it’ll kind of give you a two images side by side, and it’ll kind of highlight the area on the page that changed. Now, some cases that’s not bad. Let’s say if it’s for whatever reason you wanted to monitor your Facebook page. Well, if you post a new post, guess what? Your Facebook page changed, right?
Jesse: And actually if you kind of commented, I’m not talking about just your website. Your .com. It’s going to be your Facebook page, your Twitter page, if you’re using Yelp, your Yelp listing. You can literally monitor anything that you want out there. Another very useful reason for doing this is missing content. Again, if you’re talking about WordPress, if you’re using plugins, widgets in a sidebar, things embedded on your page, sometimes these connect to other things. Let’s say maybe like, for example, going back to your Facebook, maybe your pulling in your most recent Facebook posts and having them on your homepage or ina sidebar. If that plugin or that coding that enabled that, however you set that up, malfunctioned, there’s a bug in it, it’s going to leave like a blank element or a broken element on your page. You’re gonna wan to be alerted about that. That looks bad. Or that information isn’t communicated.
So in that case, it wasn’t bad or malicious, like a hacker. But it was just kind of a bug in your code or a plugin. Same thing, that you’re going to want to know about that and correct that as soon as possible. So, that’s something it’s super useful for. Let’s say you have maybe some YouTube videos that you’ve linked to. Somebody on your team doesn’t know that that video was important. They took that video down. Now you have this big blank spot on your page. I mean, just think about any off page elements that you’re bringing into your website. It’s going to be super useful to make sure those are always up. Especially if they’re critical, like if it’s your main sales presentation or a how-to video or things like that. The more important your page is, I would say the more important you’re going to want some monitoring on this. I wouldn’t set up monitoring on every single page of my website. Like think about your homepage, like if it’s the whole homepage or certain elements, if you’re going to use this, definitely be setting it up on your homepage.
But then if you have main landing pages, or if you’re, maybe you’re doing some paid Google ads or Facebook ads, things like that, and you’re directing traffic to certain landing pages, I’d put some monitoring up on those too just to make sure. If you’re spending money to push people to a page, there’s no reason that page shouldn’t be monitored to make sure it’s exactly how you wanted it, and there’s nothing wrong, because you’re throwing good money after bad.
Bob: So, does this catch, so it catches viruses if they make a change to your site, right? Is that the idea?
Jesse: Yeah, viruses or actual people themselves making the changes. Yeah, it’s just any change, whether it was a good or a bad change, quite frankly.
Bob: And then how about, this might be out of your league, but malicious bots or bots that are crawling other than like the Google bot, it’s not going to pick that up.
Jesse: Yeah, if it makes a change, right?
Jesse: So, actually you bring up a great point. This can monitor the code as well. So, not just, and this is going to vary based on the service, I’m talking broadly –
Jesse: It’s in a sense of change monitoring. Some of them are just visual, like Visualping. And then as the name implies, probably most useful for, like actually comparing the actual image of the page, right, and the elements that changed. Something like ChangeTower, you can get in and actually have it looking at the code that’s in your website, right? So, maybe something malicious happened where they injected some kind of script or code into your website. Didn’t change the actual appearance of the page, but maybe there –
Bob: Okay. The code has changed.
Jesse: Yeah, maybe there, I don’t know, I’m just using stupid examples for being malicious here, but maybe they’re scraping content, or maybe they’re using your website to push something out. Or whatever it is, you can monitor the actual code on your website. This actually kind of brings up another point, in your case, it’s kind of malicious. Well, if somebody did it on accident too. Like if maybe one of your developers or somebody in your team was in there, and as it goes with web coding, deleting a character or adding a character in your code at the wrong spot can kind of wreck havoc on stuff. Think like your Google Analytics, for example. It’s a piece of script that you paste into your website to then track your visitors and report through Google Analytics. If somebody made a change to your Google Analytics code, whether it be on purpose, or again, on accident, you wouldn’t be able to track your visitors anymore. You wouldn’t know that by looking at your website.
Jesse: That’s completely in the background. However, it’s pretty important for you to know if you’re using Google Analytics or any other analytic tracking tool. So, you can use tools like this to monitor the script, the coding, and all that background information in your website as well. Whether it’s malicious in intent or accidental to break something else. Again, just like with your homepage, the more critical those things are for you or not, which should be a deciding factor if you’re going to monitor them for changes or not.
Another very useful way to use this is not just on your website, not just on your Facebook page or social profiles, but going off of your properties. Bob and I were just talking before we were cutting this, like Amazon, right? Maybe I’m looking for a new camera or a new keyboard or a new laptop, or whatever it is. But I’m like, “Oh, that’s pretty high price. I’m going to wait for that price to come down.” You can actually go to that sales page on amazon.com and you can essentially draw a box around that price and set an alert for when that changes. Now it doesn’t mean it’ll change price down, right? Maybe the price went up.
Bob: Changing, yeah.
Jesse: Yeah, because it’s not going to read the actual text and tell you that the price changed by eight dollars. What you’re doing is saying on this page, if something in this square that I’m drawing changes, alert me. And then you’re going to go and check it out and see what it changed to. But things like that, id you start thinking about where can I use these kinds of things? Where is it important? Really starts to open up the possibilities for you if you yourself are scouring different websites to gather information, whether it be for price shopping, competitive research, intelligence what ever it is. Think about the manual time you’re spending doing these things, you can use these kinds of tools for relatively inexpensive compared to your labor.
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